Recent holiday reading took me back to some of the most enthralling episodes of my 1970s childhood, hiking the Wild Coast with my late father and elder brother. In particular, traversing the rock shelves north of Lambasi Bay, contemplating the calamity of the Grosvenor running aground there about two centuries earlier. I remember gazing at those unrevealing reefs and struggling to picture the disaster of August 1782. But the utter remoteness of the location, and a sense of the sheer implausibility of rescue, made a lasting impression.

Stephen Taylor’s enormously rewarding account, The Caliban Shore, The Fate of the Grosvenor Castaways, brought it all back. More than that, revisiting the chronicle of the doomed Indiaman stimulated some unexpected thinking about our own times and crises, particularly in the reflected light of Taylor’s skilful illumination of the complexities and subtleties of the setting (African as well as colonial — the Grosvenor was returning “home” from Mad...

Subscribe now to unlock this article.

Support BusinessLIVE’s award-winning journalism for R129 per month (digital access only).

There’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in SA. Our subscription packages now offer an ad-free experience for readers.

Cancel anytime.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.